Each month the After Before forum take a break form editing our own photos and take up the challenge of editing a member of the forum’s photo. This month One Photo Focus picture is by Shane Francescut at The Weekly Minute.
There are many times when I look at an image and I can see an idea of what I want it to become. With some images it is just a minor tweak here and there, with others it can be quite a workout in Photoshop to see my vision bear fruit and then there are the images that take me on a marathon. Shane’s image took me on a marathon, not because it was bad but because my vision would mean a huge transformation.
The first time I looked at Shane’s picture a few fleeting thoughts passed by, terminator, Divergent and Life after humans. I really liked the seesaw in the foreground, which if everything else was aged and crumbling could be the focus of the image. This idea was going to mean a few steps had to be taken; Aging the content of the image and destroying content as well. I would use Shane’s image as a foundation to build everything on. I would need to use quite a few stock images to help create my vision, which was a still quite broad when I started editing.
In raw I didn’t do too much to the image, only minor adjustments and cropping, to create a good base. In Photoshop I first removed the sky; this wasn’t too difficult apart from the tree to the right. I then began looking at the buildings in the background. These buildings needed to be slightly damaged. I began with the block on the right using the polygon selection tool to select an area of the building and then deleted it from the layer.
I went looking for a stock image of a building which had been destroyed, damaged or ruined. I used a curves adjustment clipped to my new destroyed layer to match the colour of the original image. I also had to apply a field blur filter to make the stock image have the same sharpness as the original, so there were no continuity errors in the depth of field.
I did the same for all the other buildings in the background, except the dome. This can be a time consuming process as you experiment with different stock images.
With any place that has been left without humans to tend to it, nature will take it back. One of the best examples of this is Ivy. I wanted to add overgrown Ivy to greenhouse building in the foreground and the domed building in the background.
First I got the maple leaf brush which is standard in Photoshop, sized the brush to my image and started painting on a new layer where the Ivy will be.
I then got a texture image of a hedge and imported it to my image. I resized the texture to match the picture and using the maple leaf brush again, this time as an eraser softening the edge of the texture. I duplicated the texture multiple times until the texture cover the screen. I ctrl + right clicked on the layer I painted the Ivy; this created a selection of the Ivy that I then pasted a layer mask of my hedge texture.
The Ivy doesn’t look too realistic at this point and I would need to add some shadows. I first created a new layer on top and copied all that was visible into this layer (Shift+Ctrl+Alt+E). I desaturated this new layer, clipped it to the Ivy and set the blending to multiply. I added a curves layer and clipped that to my new desatruated layer. In the curves I massively clipped the highlights moving the white point to the midtones and then darkened the shadows. This meant that the only parts of the desaturated layer that were being added to the Ivy were natural shadows already in the scene.
The green of the Ivy didn’t match the rest of the image. I used a hue saturation layer to fix this; adjusting the hue, lightness and saturation of the ivy.
The grass area around the seesaw didn’t look wild enough. I added a stock image and masked around the seesaw. I used the standard Photoshop grass brush to blend the image. I also added shadows to the grass in the same way as I did with the Ivy and matched the colour of the grass using curves and hue saturation.
I added a moody stock sky to compliment the feeling of the image. I duplicated this and set the blending to multiply with an opacity if 50% to add more contrast.
I added a mixture of grunge textures to the buildings and seesaw to age them. All had to be masked to make them blend in. With the seesaw I used the pen tool to help create selections. All textures were set to a blending of overlay.
I made a series of curve adjustments to the image to brighten the foreground, colour tone the image and add contrast. I also created my normal dodge and burn layer (new layer, fill 50% grey, blending overlay) to selectively brighten areas of the image.
I added a hue and saturation adjustment to shift the hue more towards green and added some warmth with the photofilter. I also added some birds flying in the sky close to the dome with a bird brush. This seems to be a popular motif with this kind of image. I wanted the seesaw to stand out, so I selectively sharpened it via the highpass method.
I added a vignette just to finish the image off with the centre being on the seesaw.
I had been editing for 6 hours and I saved the image and went off to do something else. I came back the next day with fresh eyes. There were lots of minor things I needed to change, blend the tree in more, fix some masking issues with the seesaw and the dome. One of the big things I noticed was the contrast and when the image was resized to email to Stacy, the image looked like a contrasted mess. The problem was in the shadows as there was no shadow detail.
Under the vignette I took a snap shot of the image on a new layer and converted it to a smart object. I then applied a Shadow and Highlight adjustment to soften the shadows some more and reduce the contrast. This seemed to work.
I think with all the tweaking of the image on the second day, the editing time is somewhere in the 8 hours mark.
I like that I got the overall look and feel I wanted from the image, something dystopian. In hindsight I wish I chose a different grass stock image as the depth of field drops off slightly, but on the whole this is not that noticeable. I think the birds were a nice touch as well as the ruined buildings. Although they are a small element of the image it helps to convey the overall tone and feel.
Now over to you, what do you think of the image, is there anything you like or dislike or anything you would have done differently. Let me know in the comments or if you wish just say hi.
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